Like fantasy Premier League gameweek 4, this weekend there are a few games with a sizable differential in points earned by the competing teams. Last week’s article focused almost entirely on games with a points mismatch, this week’s article will focus on a few of the closer match-ups. Additionally, this week’s lineup listing will compare the difference in Goal Difference between the teams. For example, Manchester United will host Everton this weekend. United has 10 points and a GD of +10 while Everton has 4 points and a GD of -4.  The listing will appear like this: Manchester United – Everton (6) (14).  While this game will be discussed in more detail later, United appears to be a heavy favorite. Goal Differences are based on the perspective of the home team.

Home Team                          Away Team                  Point Difference        Goal Difference

Man Utd Everton 6 14
West Brom West Ham 4 8
Crystal Palace Southampton -5 -6
Huddersfield Leicester 4 6
AFC Bournemouth Brighton -4 -5
Spurs Swansea 3 6
Chelsea Arsenal 3 4
Watford Man City -2 -4
Newcastle Stoke 1 1
Liverpool Burnley 0 -1

MISMATCHES

For this week, the first five matches are considered mismatches.

As stated above, Manchester United is a heavy favorite going into Week 5. Though they were surprised by Stoke City this week, they are still scoring at a good rate and their defense is still strong. Everton was outplayed in every aspect by Spurs and even if you don’t factor in the 3 goals Everton gave up, they had a negative GD going into week 4 and have been on the downswing since their opening win. If we assume that United just had a bad defensive day, a win and a few goals should be on the horizon for them this coming weekend.

West Bromwich’s match against West Ham should be interesting. Though they haven’t scored a lot and they got beat up by BHA in Week 4, West Brom can create a lot of defensive pressure for West Ham’s offense. Conversely, West Ham is coming off their first win and their first goals. As last week’s article mentioned, West Ham’s scoring of two goals was not out of the blue and they could have had more as well. While this is an exciting win for them, they have to play better for a few games before we can determine if this win was just a blip on the radar or a sign of a team that will continue to climb out of the cellar.

The Crystal Palace-Southampton match-up is an interesting one due to the fact that neither team has been that impressive so far. Crystal Palace hasn’t won a game nor scored a goal. However, Southampton isn’t off to a great start this season. Though they’ve obtained 4 points, they are not scoring goals. A 0-0 or 1-0 score would not be surprising.

The Huddersfield-Leicester match-up presents an interesting situation. Going into Monday, Huddersfield was playing well but they were just getting by in their matches. While it’s great to not allow any goals, that’s not going to happen all season. Monday’s 2-0 loss to a previously goalless West Ham shows what could happen to a team that lives and dies by close matches. Huddersfield’s low scoring rate may result in more draws or losses as the season progresses. On the other hand, Leicester only has three points but has scored 6 goals while giving up 8. Leicester’s losses have come against Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea. It would not be surprising to see Leicester score 2 goals nor would it be surprising to see a 1-1 draw.

As last week’s article stated, Brighton and Hove Albion’s win against was not a surprise. Their upward performance over the past few weeks should continue against the struggling AFC Bournemouth. 4 of the 5 goals BHA have given up were in the first two games and came against tougher opponents. They have played well recently against strong teams so it would not be surprising to see them do well against Bournemouth.

It’s easy to look at the mismatch in points obtained and try to make a prediction based solely on that. At least 2 of the 5 above matches could go either way. This goes back to the fundamental rule of watching the games and looking beyond the numbers.

CLOSE MATCH-UPS

Of the 5 close match-ups, the only one that really stands out as a possible mismatch is the Spurs-Swansea match. Though only 3 points separates them, Spurs is doing much better on GD and their performance in Week 3 can be a starting point for a strong run.  Harry Kane, Christian Eriksen and Ben Davies all had great performances in Week 3.  Two questions that Spurs have to deal with: 1) Can they put together a few solid weeks in a row and 2) Can they do well at Wembley?

The Watford-Manchester City match will be interesting. City showed what kind of offensive firepower they possess in their dismantling of Liverpool in Week 3. However, their other games have been much closer. Watford can score in bunches but they can also hunker down on defense and make life tough for opposing offenses. Man City’s 5-0 win skews the GD difference in their favor. This match should be closer than the numbers show.

FORWARDS

There’s always the risk of going to the well one too many times, but the disparity between Manchester United and Everton should allow for another goal for Romelu Lukaku. Rooney’s return to Old Trafford should be an afterthought shortly after kickoff.

Harry Kane was solid in many aspects against Everton. It would not be surprising to see him play solidly again. While he was aided by the strong play of his teammates, he should make things difficult for Swansea defenders.

If you’re looking to throw in a pick no one else has then someone from West Brom or Leicester may be a source for a goal. Jamie Vardy scored on a penalty in Week 3 and he may be on tap for another goal. Finding a scorer from the other games can be tough task. In Week 2 Sergio Aguero was a dud but in Week 3 he was much better. A brace from 2 Man City players was not something many predicted. The beautiful unpredictability of each week is the ugly headache of a fantasy fan.

MIDFIELDERS

Half of Week 3’s leaders came from Manchester City. While Leroy Sane scored two goals, Kevin De Bruyne’s equal point total came from impressively solid play. If City is able to pick the Watford defense apart even half as well as they did against Liverpool, a high scoring midfield may come from them again.

If you stay along the lines as the picks above for Forwards, midfielders from Manchester United, Spurs, West Brom or Leicester can provide some points. Players like Paul Pogba and Christian Eriksen were able to take advantage of their opponent mismatches. Pascal Groß of BHA may be in line for another strong week due to their match-up with a weaker AFC Bournemouth.

DEFENSE

BHA’s defense should prevent AFC Bournemouth’s anemic offense from creating any goals or opportunities. The leading defender for BHA is Shane Duffy and he has averaged 16 points in their last two wins.

Manchester United’s two goals given up to Stoke City were a surprise but that should not happen against Everton. Eric Bailly is serving a suspension but Antonio Valencia may be able to fill in. One thing to note is Valencia has been scoring inconsistently but the absence of Bailly may cause him to play solidly this week.

Southampton may be a dark horse choice for defense. Crystal Palace can’t score and Southampton only gives up an average of 1 goal per game. Maya Yoshida is their highest ranked defender. A strong performance by him could provide points from a place others wouldn’t normally choose from,

Since Spurs have a good chance against Swansea at “home”, Ben Davies may be in line for another great performance.

GOALKEEPER

Last week’s article went into detail on the analysis used to determine a strong choice for goalkeeper. Asmir Begovic of AFC Bournemouth was able to score 6 points even though he allowed three goals. If he only allowed 1 goal, his total would have been 14 points, which was two points behind the pace of the week’s top scorer. As the analysis showed, saves are important as long as you don’t give up a bunch of goals.

Going into Week 5 Newcastle is 5th in Shots on Target and Stoke City is 4th in Saves. The fact that this game is supposed to be a close match up could result in a 2nd straight leading weekend for Jack Butland. Newcastle averages a goal per game and Stoke allows a goal per game. If Butland can rack up saves and even give up his usual 1 goal, he could quickly amass points.

One of the exciting aspects of the season is we’re approaching the point where teams will start to show where in the standings they really belong, which will allow for the analysis above to be more accurate. It’s important to remember that even with the best of analysis and predictions, you can’t know when a player like Sadio Mane is going to get red carded and not only cost your team 7 points but also stop all scoring from that position. These are the things that make a strong lineup fall apart or give a weird lineup a chance to win. That’s we we all play Perfect XI.

Good luck with your Week 5 picks.